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Nutcellars, NMT, and the story of Malawi macadamia

 

There’s more to life than nuts.

As many of you know, macadamia are an extremely tasty, healthy and sustainable nut. The Emmott family founded Nutcellars just over a year ago to bring these nuts and their benefits directly to you.

But it may surprise you that the Emmott family didn’t start with a passion for nuts; they started with a passion for Malawi.

The Emmott family founded Nutcellars to solve a problem: providing the final link in a chain that connects you to farmers in Malawi. The nut is important, but it is the chain that is truly exciting.

And to tell you about that we need to tell you about Neno Macadamia Trust. The Emmotts founded NMT in 2004. NMT is Nutcellars’ charity partner and a key part of the process.

But even NMT is not the start of the chain. David Emmott (Andrew’s father and Tim and Nick’s Grandfather ) moved to a farm in Neno, Malawi as a 21 year old. Neno is on the southern most end of the African great rift valley in the Kirk Range mountains that look out over the Shire river valley It was remote then and is still so today.  But with the power of Google Earth, you can take a look for yourself.  

David saw the potential for macadamia, to have a significant earning potential for smallholder farmers: poor farmers who survive from the food they can grow on their small plot. The rift valley highlands of Malawi turned out to be the perfect climate to grow macadamia. The first commercial macadamia processing plant was established on Naming’omba Tea Estate in the 1970s, designed and managed by granny Sue.  Malawi is now the 6th largest producer of macadamia.

 

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To smallholder farmers who grow the macadamia that you may have tried, macadamia is more than just another nut. Macadamia nuts mature at a different time from other crops, during the ‘lean period’ when food prices increase and many people go hungry. Unlike other high value crops like coffee and tobacco macadamia can be eaten. Macadamia provides farmers the choice: eat it when times are bad, sell it when times are better. Macadamia is also drought tolerant: when the maize crop fails macadamia can be the difference between life and death.

But there was a problem; there always is. Who do you sell a macadamia nut to if you live in rural Malawi? How do you learn how to tend Macadamia? Where can you buy a Macadamia tree to begin with?

Laying foundations takes time. For over 15 years the Trustees of NMT have been supporting farmers in building the cooperatives, skills and nurseries, giving the farmers control and connecting them to the markets needed to release their crop’s value. Starting a solution that helps immediately but compounds to something bigger is a powerful use of money. It is, when you think about it, an incredibly positive story - a win-win, in a world where sometimes there seem far too few.

But that’s only the start. This process is less of a chain and more of a web because Macadamia has many other benefits. Today we want to mention one that matters to all of us: Macadamia trees sequester carbon, for decade, after decade, after decade.

Once again, a Malawian farmer in the rural highlands of the Kirk Range has no way to connect to those who wish to do their bit in the fight against climate change. A route to market is needed for carbon just like for nuts. Using the same cooperatives, the same chain, the same route to market, NMT provide this connection. Of course more trees means more carbon sequestered, more nuts, more food. Win-Win-Win.

It doesn’t stop here, once there is a way to connect with farmers, opportunities abound. The system is working. Although you already know that, after all many of you have already enjoyed Nutcellars macadamia nuts. That is why we are so excited, and so proud to be able to offer you Macadamia nuts in the way we do; because it’s not just about the nuts.

Over the following months we hope to tell you a lot more; there is plenty we think you’d find fascinating and we hope you are as excited and proud to be a part of this chain as we are. We would like to encourage you to sign up to NMT's newsletter  to discover more and please tell your friends. When there is something that works, sharing is one of the most powerful things you can do.

And if you are interested in how to mitigate your carbon damage for the year, we encourage you to visit the NMT Carbon Calculator where you can calculate your carbon impact or simply offset some or all of your carbon footprint. It is a powerful way to make a difference.

Last but not least, while there may be more to life than nuts, our macadamia nuts are still very tasty, healthy and sustainable so please continue to buy your Macadamia nuts through Nutcellars.

 

It has been a tumultuous first year for Nutcellars to say the least. We have enjoyed amazing support both online and at local markets. We have been very well received and have established some fantastic collaborations with local businesses and directly with you. Thank you for your support this year, do be in touch if you have comments, suggestions, or would like to find out more, we would love to hear from you.

Merry Christmas and happy New Year from all of us at Nutcellars!

 

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